The last match in Mainz, ending the first half of last season, was a close affair that Bayern won 2-1, thanks to a last-minute goal by Arjen Robben.
1. Players game or coaches game?
Bayern have had problems getting into a match this season, repeatedly failing to create scoring chances in the first half. In seven matches, they have only scored four goals in the first 45 minutes, with all three goals against having been conceded in the same phase. After the break however, Bayern’s goal difference lies at an amazing 19-0. Pep Guardiola’s halftime changes appear to be highly effective. Only sometimes are they as obvious as against Wolfsburg, when he subbed off the two weakest players at the break. Often, it’s minor details that change the flow of the game and secure the win. You’d think that, after all, football is a coaches game.
However, it often is the individual quality of the Bayern players that changes the outcome. That’s what we saw this time around. There aren’t many strikers who convert that average Coman cross like Robert Lewandowski did. Once they’d taken the lead, the game was a different one. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that the Bavarian style of play intends to exhaust opponents. Rarely has that been as obvious as in Mainz. Martin Schmidt made his players invest a lot to keep Bayern away from their goal but in the end they weren’t rewarded for their hard work. It’s probably safe to assume that football is both a players game and a coaches game. Especially when your squad is as talented as Bayern’s.
2. The quality of Kingsley Coman
With his wing dribbles, Kingsley Coman adds an incredibly important quality to the Bayern game. He played a key role in the win, providing four successful dribbles. While he wasn’t as involved in the first half due to the asymmetry caused by the positioning of Rafinha and Thiago, his first involvement was significant as he got the otherwise solid Mainz defense to foul him inside the box. This was already the third penalty call Coman has received in a Bayern shirt. A similar movement preceded his assist for the opening goal – Coman possesses the quality to get past opponents effectively. He was rewarded by getting to score the third goal of the match, the second of the season for the 19-year-old.
His defensive involvement is remarkable as well. While his pressing looks a bit wild, it is effective enough to regularly shut down the opponent’s most comfortable passing option. He finished the match with a tackle success rate of 69% and a key clearance.
Coman might turn out to be an important figure in Guardiola’s lineups. He allows for a better rotation – without a significant loss in quality – in the exhausting weeks that often see Bayern play 3 matches within 7 days. For the player himself it’s a favorable situation too, since he can collect lots of playing time while Ribery and Robben are injured.
3. Scary scoring rate
Everything that Robert Lewandowski touches these days turns to gold. In the last 135 minutes of play, he scored seven goals, deciding both matches. His shot conversion is most remarkable. Against Mainz, he turned four shots into two goals. The header that became the opening goal wasn’t even a real scoring chance. It’s doubtful if, for the second goal, he would’ve delivered such a composed finish a month ago. The beginning of the season again showed that his finishing isn’t always ideal but the numbers suggest that he’s taken another jump forward in this regard.
As of now, Lewandowski has scored ten goals in six appearances – that’s 2.1 goals per 90 minutes. In his first season with Bayern and his last season with Dortmund, he scored 0.62 goals per 90 minutes. While the current rate might not be completely sustainable, there’s a definite improvement that can be explained with his climbing shot attempts. This season, he averages 6.71 shots per 90 minutes, as compared to 3.81 last season or 3.76 in his last Dortmund campaign. Lewandowski takes 76% more shots than last year. Since his accuracy is rising as well, it’s safe to assume that the quality of the shots he takes is high – 81% of his attempts go on target. Last season, only 53% of his shots troubled the keeper. It is the combination of increasing attempts and high accuracy that explains his remarkable scoring rate.
The numbers suggest it – Pep Guardiola has managed to integrate Lewandowski into the Bayern game. Maybe that’s caused by the absence of Robben and Ribery, two players who enjoy shooting the ball themselves. In Costa, Müller and Coman, Robert Lewandowski has found great support around him. He repays them in goals.
|1. FSV MAINZ 05 – FC BAYERN 0-3 (0-0)|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||Karius – Brosinski, Bungert, Bell, Bengtsson – Baumgartlinger, Latza (73. Moritz) – Clemens (81. Balogun), Malli (67. Samperio), De Blasis – Muto|
|Subs||Curci – Bussmann, Zimling, Niederlechner|
|FC Bayern München||Neuer – Lahm, Martínez (67. Boateng), Alaba, Rafinha – Alonso, Thiago – Coman, Müller (58. Vidal), Costa (70. Götze) – Lewandowski|
|Subs||Ulreich – Bernat, Rode, Kimmich|
|Goals||0-1 Lewandowski (51.), 0-2 Lewandowski (63.), 0-3 Coman (68.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Baumgartlinger / Alonso|
|Attendance||34.000 (sold out)|